Tent Rocks national Monument, Day After Thanksgiving 2014

Written on July 11, 2015

The day after Thanksgiving, myself and a couple other Tamarindos went for a hike at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, affectionately known as ‘Tent Rocks.’ We weren’t the only folks with this idea; there was a line to get up the mountain! Regardless, the hike is beautiful. We climbed to the top of the outcrop seen to the left in the photo below.

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Bandelier National Monument, Fall 2014

Written on July 10, 2015

In October, I took a solo day trip to Bandelier National Monument, winding along the backroads and approaching Frijoles Canyon from the southwest from the Jemez Mountains, which was a beautiful drive. The peak tourist season was winding down, but I still had to take a shuttle into the canyon from a neighboring town. Several years ago, a massive flood washed away a significant portion of the parking lot in the canyon. The weather was warm yet foreboding; the sky was darkly ominous. Shortly after entering the canyon, a thunderstorm erupted overhead. I took shelter in hollowed, hand-carved room dug into the canyon face, just like the ancestral pueblo peoples did over 500 years ago. After the rain subsided, I continued walking toward the end of the canyon, finally reaching the Alcove House, an ancestral pueblo dwelling located 140 feet above the canyon floor. Four wooden ladders and dozens of stairs carved into the cliff lead you up the rock face to the sacred Kiva. The view was breathtaking and worth the sometimes-nerve-wracking climb for this explorer who likes to keep her feet firmly planted on the ground.

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Looking into Frijoles Canyon from above.

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Balloon Fiesta 2014

Written on July 9, 2015

Back in October, a group of Tamarind students woke at 3AM, climbed into cars and onto bikes, arriving before dawn to Balloon Fiesta Park for the opening weekend of the annual Balloon Fiesta. There, along with thousands of spectators, we witnessed the launch of hundreds of hot air balloons into the twilight sky. Once the rays of the sun reached above the Sandia Mountains to the east, balloons began ascending into the sky in unrelenting waves, for hours upon hours. We wandered under and through balloons as they were unfurled upon the ground, slowly inflated, and finally released into the atmosphere. It was truly a sight to behold– a definite once in a lifetime experience.

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Overnight at White Sands

Written on February 18, 2015

Back in October, the Tamarind Adventure Club enjoyed a night of camping at White Sands National Monument. When we arrived in the early afternoon, the sun was high overhead and the heat, reflecting of the dunes, was almost unbearable. The sand however, made out of gypsum, remained cool to the touch, collecting what little moisture the desert has to offer. As the afternoon progressed, we parked at the trailhead for backcountry camping and headed into the dunes. The only means to find our way were a series of red poles placed at the top of the dunes, directing us dune to dune, until we had walked a mile into the sands to designated, numbered camp sites. Sunset and sunrise were magical light shows, and though the photos may seem repetitive, each dune had a unique relation to the sky and the surrounding mountains. It was hard to look away, and equally difficult to capture in images.

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The muted color of sunrise caused the sky and the sand to blend together, obliterating the horizon.

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Lake Abiquiu

Written on February 17, 2015

For Memorial Day, the Tamarind Adventure Club went swimming at Lake Abiquiu, near Ghost Ranch. The lake is man made, and is one of the few lakes in New Mexico that allows motorized boating. The weather was gorgeous, the lake was calm, and the water was the perfect temperature.

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Hiking the backcountry, BLM style

Written on February 16, 2015

On August 23, the Tamarind Adventure Club enjoyed its very first daring adventure: searching for a trail that I’m still pretty sure doesn’t actually exist, encountering wild horses, hiking into the BLM backcountry on a dirt road followed by a truck with rifles sticking out its window, climbing a gorgeous sandstone mesa in the scorching heat, and then getting the car stuck in the densest, reddest mud for what felt like an entire afternoon. These images document the beauty of that hike, complete with two lovely photogenic pooches.

What you unfortunately can’t see are the beautiful friendships being formed behind the lens.

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Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

Written on February 16, 2015

Back in August, before classes started, I drove down the Salt Missions Trail Scenic Byway through the middle of New Mexico. After six months of traversing the state, this route remains my favorite, and in my opinion, the most beautiful by far.  The Salt Missions Trail leads to the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, a sprawling circuit of three historical ruins 30 miles apart. This was an amazing initial immersion into the history of New Mexico, its first peoples, and their encounters with Spanish Missionaries beginning in the 17th century. That’s a lot of history. The three sites, Quarai, Abo, and Gran Quivira each have their own unique history, stories, peoples and architecture. I cannot recommend this monument enough. On that day in August, I was the only person at each of these monuments. The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument cemented my love affair with the beautiful state of New Mexico.

Gran Quivira is the most impressive of the three sites; well worth the extra 25 miles it tacks onto your visit (if approaching from the north). I visited this site first, arriving just as the morning sun was becoming hot enough to cause droplets of sweat to bead on my forehead. The adobe and rock used at this site was white, and against the color of sage and blue sky, the short walk up a hill to the ruin was awe inspiring.

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The next site was Abo, and as a Pacific Northwesterner trying to shoot in late summer Southwest sun for the first time, the color is somewhat washed out. Abo was the most brilliant red of the three ruins; truly a site to behold.

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Quarai is the smallest of the three ruins, and the mission that is most intact. Portions of this site were semi-rebuilt in the 1800s by later settlers in the area.

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